The second biggest wireless carrier in America is looking to LTE connected drones as a possible means for improving its wireless network and help maintain its current telecommunications infrastructure. AT&T has officially revealed that it is launching a countrywide trial called Flying COWs (Cells on Wings) in order to provide LTE coverage at big events or in times of natural calamities. Art Pregler, the director of National Mobility Systems at AT&T is heading the trial, and his background as a former serviceman in the United States Air Force should immensely help.
As of now, AT&T is already making full use of drones in order to conduct aerial inspections of its cellular towers. The purpose is to achieve optimum safety and efficiency in terms of the performance of its cell towers. More specifically, using a drone allows the major US wireless carrier to access parts of its towers that can not be easily reached by its technicians manually.
As explained by John Donovan, the chief strategy officer and group president of technology and operations at AT&T, using drones and connecting them to the wireless carrier’s LTE network allows AT&T to collect information and directly feed it to the company’s systems. By doing so, AT&T is in a good position to respond more quickly to situations and even make adjustments in real time.
Despite the advances of wireless technology, unfortunately there are still areas that lack in sufficient mobile network coverage. Even more difficult are those locations that can not even be accessed by automobiles. This is where connected drones play a role. They can be used to provide wireless coverage from the air. AT&T is also looking into the possibility of drones transmitting big chunks of information in real time by way of LTE, potentially making them useful for businesses such as insurance, farming, facility and asset inspections, and even transport services.
Using drones for boosting coverage may be a wise decision for AT&T, but the wireless carrier is hardly the first tech company to think of this idea. As a matter of fact, Nokia has recently asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve its request to start testing three commercial mobile devices attached to a drone at the Kansas City Speedway for a period of three months. Another tech company, Ericsson, showcased a drone connected to a cellular network during this year’s Mobile World Congress held earlier this year in the city of Barcelona in Spain.
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